What is the Difference Between an Accent and Proper English?

Have you noticed how in movies and on TV if the writers and producers want to make someone appear stupid or ignorant they give them a Southern accent? Also, if someone is correcting another personís English, they usually have an English accent or northern accent. The person being corrected on the majority of occasions has a Southern accent. This is one of the many ways in which Yankees and liberal elites, who control TV and movies, work to make being a Southerner appear to be a negative thing.

The question to ask however is, "Who decides what is proper English?" My wife majored in English while attending the University of Alabama. According to my wife, the professors in college said that correct English is anything that gets the message across. If you can be understood, then that is correct English. However, proper English is what the English nobility used to differentiate themselves from the commoners. That means that the English taught in school is the English of nobility.

So when practicing your conjugations of verbs and determining your plural possessives and dangling participles, remember that you are attempting to speak as the English nobles of ages past. I have to admit that Iíve forgotten a lot of the rules that go into speaking and writing. Most of what I say and write comes subconciously from the years of practice as a student. I also like to say that I speak and write in the way that sounds right to my ear. But in all the years of schooling I had, never did I hear anyone comment on the idea that what accent you spoke with determined if you spoke proper English.

If the accent you speak with determines if your English is good or bad, or if you are smart or dumb, which accent is the correct accent to speak with? Who decides which accent is right? I would assume that if we are speaking English that the English accent would be the correct one. What makes Yankees think their accent is superior to the Southern accent? In my travels to the British Isles and meeting natives of the British Isles in America, repeatedly I have heard how the English, Scots and Irish all prefer the sound of the Southern accent to the Northern accent.

The Southern accent has a slow melodic sound that is soft and gentle on the ear. The Northern accent is rather nasal and harsh, and tends sound more like whining than actual talking. If anything, the Southern accent is to be copied not eradicated. All Southerners should work to improve their accents and strengthen their ties to Dixie through how they pronounce their words. The heck with "proper" English, letís speak proper Southern English.

Jeff Adams
March 27, 1999